The Houston Dynamo may have struggled to convince onlookers of a consistent identity during the 2015 season, but they were able to sell their direction to three very important individuals this offseason.
Houston announced on Tuesday that they have re-signed forwards Giles Barnes and Will Bruin and goalkeeper Tyler Deric. With Barnes and Deric both 27, and Bruin just 26, the trio are all entering their peak years, and all had options to move elsewhere. But head coach Owen Coyle and the Dynamo, who missed the playoffs for the second-straight year in 2015, were able to keep them all in town, successfully pitching their vision about what they think the club can be in the near future.
“I talked to Owen a lot about it. I told Owen ‘Hey look I want to be a part of this, but I want to win championships,’” Bruin said. “I don’t want to say I want to win right now, but I do. After long discussions with Owen we both feel we have the pieces right now to be contenders right now. I truly do believe that.
“I wouldn’t stick around if I didn’t truly believe this was a good team. I believe this is a good team, and I really do believe with the team and pieces we have we can be in the playoffs next year.”
Bruin and Barnes have led Houston in the striking department the past three seasons, combining for 56 goals and 24 assists since the start of the 2013 season. That success bred interest for both from abroad, with Bruin mentioning interest from Belgium and France and Barnes from his native England.
Signing the forward duo was critical for Coyle, who recently completed his first year in charge in Houston and whose outlook was praised by both Barnes and Bruin.
Deric also complimented Coyle, saying the manager’s clear vision heading into his second year in Houston was a factor in his decision to return to the Dynamo.
“I had a lot of conversations with Owen Coyle and the entire coaching staff about who this team’s going to be next year,” Deric said. “They made it clear they wanted to sign the core group of players and have good leadership… I think it’s great. I think Giles, Will and I re-signed this year, and we’re all committed to this club.
“The rebuilding process, people said it was last year, I think coming this year we have more of an identity of what we want to do. We learned a lot from this terrible season, I’ll say it. We were all unhappy and we’ve all found our voices and we know what we have to do next year to improve.”
While Bruin and Barnes help shore things up on the front line, Deric provides stability between the pipes.
The 27-year-old Homegrown showed a propensity to make big saves last season and has the chops to be a top-flight goalkeeper. Goalkeeping coach Paul Rogers said earlier this season that he thinks Deric’s ceiling could lie with the national team.
“Obviously you want to keep a core,” Bruin said. “I was talking to Giles and Tyler and all the guys that are already signed and we all believe and are all on the same page.”
With captain Brad Davis rumored to be on the trading block and veteran midfielder Ricardo Clark still unsigned, it could fall largely to Barnes, Bruin and Deric to help the Dynamo return to the playoffs in 2016. Playing a leading role in ushering in Houston’s new vision is a large responsibility, but one the trio seems ready for.
“I knew there would be a bedding-in period with Owen coming in and trying to enforce his ideas,” Barnes said. “I was encouraged with everything happening during the season even though the results weren’t always the best.
“We’ve got a lot of young players, and it looks like we’re keeping a lot of core young players. The signing of Will and Tyler is good news for the organization.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.